Christian Bioethics: A Guide for Pastors, Health Care Professionals, and Families
Ben Mitchell, PHD & D. Joy Riley, MD, Series Editor Daniel R. Heimbach
Decisions are never easy. Although we as Christians have been blessed with all that we need to live a life of holiness and one that is pleasing to God as is revealed in His Word, it does not give us specific instructions for every decision that we will make as we live on this earth. I believe that is intentional due to the fact that God wants His children to be completely dependent upon Him and not be reactive spiritual robots who only “choose” to do what is clearly described for them in His Word. Life is complicated. The web becomes increasingly tangled as we consider the many scenarios that are possible in the realms of bioethics. Scripture clearly teaches us that life is sacred. There are a myriad of examples that are available to us that help us to understand how valuable life is to God and should be to us.
With that being said, Mitchell and Riley provide several difficult situations where sometimes the boundary lines become fuzzy and the rhetoric over what is right and what is wrong as well as personal liberties and whose life is more valuable become difficult to weigh through. The questions are tough and the answers are even tougher, even from a Christian perspective. We, as believer’s value life as sacred in the eyes of God. Yet, how do we understand what we are supposed to do when someone we love is on life support and the doctors have determined that he is technically dead and that the machines he is attached to is only keeping him breathing and that he has no brain activity? Is it wrong to remove that “life” support? What about when loved one does not leave the family an advanced directive regarding what their wishes are in case of an accident and they are involved in that accident? How do we respond in accord to what we believe would be their desires, yet also maintaining sensitivity to what we believe to be our biblical convictions? What about young families who are unable to physically have children naturally, but desire to have a baby? Is in-vitro fertilization an ethical option from a biblical perspective? What if we know that it involves the destruction of human embryos in the process?
These types of very real-life scenarios and many more complex case studies provide the framework on this highly valuable handbook. It makes you think deeply and critically regarding the issues. It also gives the reader a wake-up call to make sure that you clearly make your wishes known if something would ever happen to you regarding life support. It has given me much more respect for the medical profession who has to make these types of difficult decisions as well as counsel those who are wrestling with doing the right thing as well as filtering those decisions from a biblical lens.
While this handbook does not give us the directives of what to do in every specific situation that they describe, the authors are very clear to give their audience instruction as to how to go about making clear, honest, biblically ethical decisions. It can be easy to point fingers and blame the liberal media and political leaders for how they have distorted the issues as to when life begins, when life is no longer meaningful, and what the definition of human dignity is. Yet, in my humble opinion, these questions and the scenarios that have been provided as examples to push us to dig deeper and to see more clearly into the quagmire of bioethics, it serves instead as a mirror. It serves as a mirror to the extent that perhaps the situations that have arisen in our midst are there because we as Christians have fallen asleep at the wheel. We have been too silent as to not offend and have been naïve in thinking that this nasty thing will just go away. We definitely need biblically-focused professionals to help us to clearly understand what is happening in medical research and to be in the heat of battle to make sure that human life is valued and not marketed for the sake of the “haves” at the sacrifice of the “have nots” in our society.
I would like to extend my gratitude to Cross-Focused Media for the free copy of the book for me to offer this unbiased, balanced review as as B&H Academic.